N.S. nurses don’t feel safe and worry about patient safety: survey

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CTV Atlantic

Published Thursday, April 4, 2019 10:55PM ADT

Last Updated Thursday, April 4, 2019 11:15PM ADT

A new survey indicates Nova Scotia nurses are worried about their safety and the safety of their patients.

The survey, conducted by the Nova Scotia Government and Employees Union, has found that many nurses have witnessed adverse events on the job within the past six months.

When registered nurse Lauren Croft provides comfort and care for patients, she says “there’s absolutely no better feeling.”

But lately, she has had some concerns.

“I still love what I do, but I lately dread going to work,” Croft said.

Being a nurse has brought on unbearable stress.

“I feel pretty crummy being only two years out of school and actually feeling burnt out from my job already,” she said.

Croft’s comments come as the NSGEU releases the results of its safety survey:

  • Only 12 per cent of NSGEU nurses feel safe at work.
  • 84 per cent have experienced threats or acts of abuse or violence in the past 5 years.
  • 35 per cent have been injured at work.

“I feel unsafe,” Croft says.

The survey also found most nurses believe patients are at risk due to staffing shortages.

Almost 70 per cent have been involved in a “near miss” or “adverse event” in the past six months

The Nova Scotia Health Authority says they were already aware of these safety issues and have begun taking action.

“We are concerned,” said Carmelle d’Entremont, the vice-president of people and organizational development of the NSHA. “We’re trying to find initiatives and ways in which we support our workers, including our nurses, to be healthy, to feel safe.”

The president of the NSGEU has a possible solution — an idea that he believes could be a game-changer.

“I would love to accompany Randy Delorey or the premier to go down to the emergency department and shadow some health care for the day,” said NSGEU president Jason MacLean.

Croft says she is open to having the province’s political leaders job-shadow her any day “and see what it really takes and what we’re going through out there.”

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey says the survey’s findings provide concrete information, allowing the province to now react and make possible improvements.

“I think it’s a very important step in understanding the concerns so that steps can be made to improve the situation,” said Delorey.

More than 1,000 nurses participated in the study, which is roughly one-third of NSGEU nurses.

The survey also dealt with workload.

Ninety-two per cent of NSGEU nurses say their workload has increased in the past five years.

Croft says her feelings of burnout are not unique to her; she hears it from her co-workers almost every day.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Paul Hollingsworth.

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